Handmade fashion jewelry is a great addition to anyone's wardrobe. Today's jewelry designers are using a wide range of materials in their creations: glass, ceramic, semi-precious stones, fabric, polymer clay, precious metal clay, ribbon, felted wool, paper, leather, acrylic and resin, to name just a few. Metals include 14k gold, gold filled, gold plated, copper, sterling silver, sterling silver filled, silver plated, stainless steel, aluminum...the array of metals available is endless. With such diverse components, how does one properly care for handmade/ mixed media/fashion/art jewelry pieces to preserve their beauty?
Here are a few quick tips:
1. To keep that handmade necklace with its lovely ribbon and fiber strands looking its best, store it in a box with a lid. Avoid storing fiber jewelry where it can collect dust and dirt.
2. Put your jewelry on after you've showered, dressed, and applied makeup, fragrance, lotion and/or hair spray. All jewelry is very susceptible to damage from these products. Hair spray, for example, leaves a sticky residue that can dull and erode the finish on beads and metal findings. Lotions can permanently darken leather and gum up filigreed pieces, so apply that hand cream before putting on your rings and leather cuff bracelet.
3. Check your jewelry regularly for signs of wear. Many handmade necklaces, particularly those which are imported, are strung on nylon fishing line which stretches and eventually breaks. Examine these pieces to see if a noticeable gap has appeared between the beads and the clasp, or if there are other visible signs of wear. If so, have the piece restrung with professional quality beading wire or other material suited to the materials in your jewelry piece. Natural stone beads, for example, call for sturdy, abrasion resistant beading wire. This stringing material resists stretching and can stand up to the beads' weight.
4. Paper beads are popular components in today's mixed media jewelry. They'll perform well if they're properly sealed with a glaze or varnish, preferably one offering protection from ultraviolet rays so the paper is less susceptible to fading. To keep your paper bead jewelry looking its best, avoid storing it in direct sunlight and never wear it in the shower.
5. Storing your jewelry in the bathroom may be convenient, but it's not a good idea. The steam and temperature swings found in bathroom environments accelerate tarnishing of metal. As if that weren't bad enough, it's all too easy for jewelry pieces to fall down the drain.
6. Go swimming sans jewelry. (Notice I am not suggesting you go skinny dipping!) Chlorinated pool water has been known to harm the surface of gold. Not only that, it can turn silver black. Some precious gems can actually be ruined by it!
As a maker of handmade jewelry, I know how much fun it is to wear as well as design. Hopefully the tips I've shared here will keep your jewelry sparkling and admiring compliments coming your way. When your jewelry looks wonderful, so do you. Give it a bit of care and it will enhance your life for many years to come.
©2013 Lynn Edwards